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NYC Birthday Adventures

Most days I consider myself to be strong, not physically but emotionally. I kiss my husband goodbye before his shift, tell him I love him and that I’ll see him later. Perhaps not often enough, I might say, “be safe,”  a common expression with law enforcement families, and for good reason. Let’s be clear, I don’t spend all day worrying, or lose sleep over his job, but I know that there is a chance he might not come home.

After last week’s horrific events, there is hardly a soul in the world who doesn’t recognize Officer Sean Collier’s name. My heart aches for his family – of course for the other victims of the Boston Marathon Bombings as well – but especially for his. It struck a nerve knowing a young Officer (described as a good and honorable man) was brutally assassinated so close to home –  I send  healing thoughts to the loved ones he left behind. He was far too young to lose his life. Wednesday, as Road Dog attended the memorial service, I watched the live online feed while at work and didn’t budge until it was over; my coworkers never said a word.  RIP Sean Collier.

I’m not quite sure how to transition into my happier content so I’m just moving ahead.

Not to make excuses, BUT I was not able to (easily) post these past two weeks. That is, until today! I had been dependent on my husbands slow and FULL (read: out of disk space) laptop but now I’m working from a brand new iMac and feeling just a little more hip and with it. Yeah!

So let me catch you up 🙂 Two weeks ago, my husband and I were sitting with our family at the Oyster Club in Mystic, CT celebrating his 30th birthday. This is our FAVORITE restaurant in town and we were psyched to finally get everyone over there to experience it for themselves. They started our evening off with a surprise bottle of chilled prosecco for a birthday toast and even let me bring (Irish Coffee) cupcakes in from NoRa Cupcake Company in Middletown, CT for his dessert. They are incredibly accommodating and flexible, thank you again to all of the staff that evening.

The GM has created a cool but low-key vibe and filled the space with warm, knowledgable staff. We love their locally sourced and ever-changing dishes,  the innovative drink menu is pretty sweet too.  If you haven’t been in, do yourself a favor and make a reservation or stop by for a happy hour buck-a-shuck oyster feast with a glass of wine.

Somehow I snuck a rave in this post…sneaky.

The next morning we were up at 0’dark-thirty to catch the train, good thing one of us functions with little-to-no sleep (I’m definitely NOT referring to myself). By 7:00 AM we were NYC bound, and by 10:00 we had arrived at Grand Central ready to take on the city.

My type A side (this time meaning me) brought a thoroughly planned out itinerary, complete with subway lines and directions, you should have seen this thing, it was pretty – If you’re OCD like that…

 

My handsome Mr. outside our very swanky boutique hotel.

My handsome Mr. outside our very swanky boutique hotel.

I put us up at the Gild Hall in the West Side. They knew it was a special birthday trip and went so far as to give us a top floor room and later sent up a special amenity complete with champagne and a cookie spread! Take a peek around, this was my first boutique hotel experience and I was blown away at all of the details throughout: http://www.thompsonhotels.com/hotels/nyc/gild-hall.

Since this was our first trip to the city together, and actually the first for both of us in many years, we made a stop at Ground Zero to pay respects. Being that my husband is a motorcycle guy, I had to share these two photos from the museum shop. Check out the memorial chopper built by Paul Jr from American Chopper –

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View from the front

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Pretty crazy, right?

From there we headed over to City Winery – which, unfortunately, was closed for a rehearsal dinner that evening – such a bummer! Or was it? While walking towards the High Line (with extra time in our schedule) we found The Meadow. See: www.atthemeadow.com

For the salt obsessed!

For the salt obsessed!

First, I saw the pink Himalayan salt bricks out of the corner of my eye, then the glossy “Salted” book cover, and then I looked up and saw the wall of salts inside the shop. Jackpot! We had just stumbled upon a store dedicated to unrefined finishing salts from all over the world!  I could have spent an entire day in there, anyone who knows me would support that claim.

THEY LET YOU TRY ALL OF THEM!

There are over 150 top quality artisanal salts from all over the world to choose from.

“Salt is born of the purest of parents: the sun and the sea.” – Pythagoras (580 BC – 500 BC)

Meanwhile, Road Dog took a birthday phone call while I sampled away inside. It was overwhelming and I didn’t know where to start so I just dove in with my eyes first. There was a dark purple coarse salt from India that I went to, it was volcanic and as it turns out, heavily sulfuric – if you aren’t familiar, that means it tasted like rotten eggs smell. I was grossed out but hyper curious about what other flavors I would discover. Prussian Blue came next, it was course as well and clear in color with bright blue flecks. This one had the same effect on the tongue as mint gum – it felt cold as it dissolved. I think the last salt that left the most unique and lasting impression was the Takesumi Bamboo Flake Salt, a Japanese deep sea salt that is dark black in color and one I can’t adequately describe without going back again – maybe charcoal doused in seawater?

Food grade pink himalayan salt bricks and bowls in every size - you can cook and serve food directly in/on them!

Food grade pink Himalayan salt bricks and bowls in every size – you can cook and serve food directly in/on them!

I paused to browse their display of salt blocks, I’ve had my eye on one for a while but didn’t want to lug it around with me for the rest of the day. There is always next time, right?

Since I had been in search of a good smoked salt, I ended up walking out with two:

The first was Halen Mon Gold Smoked sea salt – a flake in form and can be crushed between your fingers or more easily by a mortar and pestle. It comes from the Welsh coast and is smoked with oak, smells like campfire but the taste is balanced and nowhere near overpowering.

The second one I chose was Alaska Pure Smoked salt – also flake form, this one is just a little more heavy on the smoke flavor but it worked for me so home it came.

Who doesn't love a good egg sandwich?

Who doesn’t love a good egg sandwich?

I like to keep a low box on my kitchen table, filled with finishing salts and flavored oils. I couldn’t wait to add these to my collection and, of course, try them out! Monday morning I made us egg sandwiches with uncured organic bacon, local eggs, Muenster cheese, sautéed shiitake mushrooms, and a hit of Halen Mon Gold. When I tell you that it was good, I mean like, eyes pop out of your head as you keep chewing, good. At least that was my husbands reaction. The bit of smoke, the crunch, all of it made friends in our mouth and sent us to our happy place. It was the kind of meal that made you a little sad when it was over – luckily there will be more in our future.

Back to NYC. After trying so many salts I was in desperate need of a drink. That is how we ended up at ‘sWine’, just down the street. After a glance at their menu, I was heading up the stairs. Check out: swinenyc.com, the F G & J was calling my name. While we waited for our little snack to arrive we ordered the much needed drinks.

Mine was better than his ;-)

Mine was better than his ;-)

I ordered up the March of the Pigs – vodka, tomato, chipotle tabasco, celery bitters, pickled jalapeno, bacon rim (pictured to the right). The person that decided to crush up bacon and roll it around the rim of a cocktail is my hero, no joke. This was the best spin on a Bloody Mary I think I’ve ever had and the neatest thing about it, was the celery bitters were also from The Meadow. I would go back to NYC just to revisit these two spots. Road Dog ordered a Michelada, a traditional Mexican drink made with cold Mexican beer, hot sauce,lime juice, and worcestershire (NO thanks!). It’s sort of like a Bloody Mary, only with beer instead of vodka and sWine left out the tomato.

Here are a few shots from some of our stroll down the High Line ~

View from the High Line

View from the High Line

I loved this - another snap from the High Line

I loved this – another snap from the High Line

Our hotel was a 5 minute walk to the South Street Seaport and Brooklyn Bridge.

South St. Seaport

South St. Seaport

I couldn’t take my camera into the Village Vanguard but I managed to get a few cell phone shots, unfortunately they digitized for some reason and look like garbage 🙁 It was my first jazz show and I have a whole new appreciation for the genre.

I suppose I’ll wrap up this post. It was a good day at the Vineyard followed by a quick buzz down to Westbrook to catch the last hour of the Taste & Style Food Truck Festival.

Locally sourced EVERYTHING - YES!!

Feast your eyes on the LBLT – Lobster, bacon from a local farmer, romaine lettuce, farm fresh tomato, and hand made garlic aioli .

We went straight to the LobsterCraft food truck, these guys are out of Norwalk, CT. Why I love them: the guy who handed me this big fat lobster roll is also the boat captain and lobster fisherman, he catches and cooks the lob’s all in the same day! They locally source many of their ingredients – further supporting local farmers and businesses, they have a fun attitude, and the grub is plain ol’ good. My lobster was cooked properly and they didn’t wimp out on the portion either – thumbs up guys 🙂 Check them out at www.lobstercraft.com – they book private events!

Time to put my feet up with a glass of wine ~

K